To be honest, I was trying to have an event free weekend this weekend. The more I goofed off, the better I felt. The more I worked, the guiltier I felt. I was trying to break the work-a-holic habit I had buried myself in for the past few years. Everything was going well, for the most part, and then this story shows up:
Zombie Apocalypse in Miami: Naked Man Killed By Police After Eating Face of Victim
So much for my vacation! How can I sit back while this story was going on? I cannot believe it took me until today to start writing about it when this event happened on Saturday.
For those who don’t know, Rudy Eugene, a 31-year-old former North Miami Beach High School football player who liked to smoke marijuana and hoped to start his own mobile car wash business, attacked and began to eat the face of Ronald Poppo, a homeless drinker who had been shot once and arrested two dozen times. When the police arrived, they told Eugene to stop. Eugene snarled and growled and continued anyway. A warning shot was fired. Eugene kept chowing down. Finally, the officer shot Eugene. Several times Eugene was shot and he kept mauling Poppo. One more shot finally took him out. The Miami Herald reported that the victim’s nose, face and eyes were torn off during the attack.
When I heard about this I began searching every news agency I knew of for more information. I checked Google too and a few horror sites. The story had gone beyond viral. It was, ironically, an internet pathogen. Theories abound about what was wrong with Rudy Eugene. Was it cocaine? PCP? What drove him to cannibal madness? Of course only a few sites even suggested what everyone was thinking: Was this the beginning of a true zombie apocalypse? Unlikely, but still…
More than half of all zombie movies have been made since the 9/11 tragedy. That is hard to imagine considering the modern cannibalistic zombie conception started back in 1969 with George Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead. That movie spawned several sequels, a number of blatant rip-offs and several remakes. Yet, 70% or more of all films with a zombie theme were made after September 11th, 2001. Are we, as a society, subconsciously preparing ourselves for something?
Although some people believe that Romero “invented” the flesh eating ghoul in his classic movie, the concept of man-eating monsters like the modern zombie has been around for centuries. William of Newburgh (1136-1198 AD) wrote about the revenant. Revenants were essentially re-animated corpses that rose from the grave to eat the living. The Epic of Gilgamesh (written around 2150-2000 BC) hints that the undead were a terror even for the ancient Sumerians. In the story Gilgamesh rejects the advances of the goddess Ishtar because of her mistreatment of previous lovers like Dumuzi. Ishtar asks her father Anu to send Gugalanna the Bull of Heaven to avenge her. When Anu rejects her complaints, Ishtar threatens to raise the dead who will “outnumber the living” and “devour them”.
The “Miami Zombie” story is definitely not normal. It is definitely weird. Is it paranormal? I tried to call zombie expert and best-selling author Max Brooks on the topic, but out of respect for the victim’s family he is not commenting on the Miami Zombie attack just yet. In my opinion? I have to wonder, is our current pop culture obsession with zombies influencing the previously unlikely event of a zombie outbreak? Could it be, out there in the darkest areas of the world, much like Ebola, there exists the perfect virus? Could there be a virus that turns its host into the perfect vehicle for spreading itself to other hosts? Could the public consciousness be making this happen? The answer may very well rest on the ultimate outcome of Mr. Poppo.